Dave Weyher, President, LendPro
What are you innovating on right now?
LendPro is transforming how consumers apply for and get approved for in-store financing at big-ticket retailers, such as furniture, jewelry, and bedding stores. Believe it or not, most stores still have consumers fill out paper credit applications and then they take the application behind the counter and key it in to a lender’s web portal. If it is declined by the lender, they have the consumer fill out a different application and key that one in to yet another lender’s portal. If it sounds exhausting, painful, frustrating, and embarrassing, it is! LendPro’s Open-to-Buy technology platform is integrated with quite a few lenders covering all credit tiers to streamline how a consumer applies for financing and permits them to do so privately, in a self-service manner, via kiosk, tablet, or smartphone. It’s a unified application process making the process very efficient with a higher probability of the consumer being approved for financing.
What inspired you to follow an entrepreneurial path?
I didn’t start out my career as an entrepreneur but after moving up the corporate ranks at a few technology firms, I got bored with the large corporate structure and had a burning desire to build a business. So, I jumped in to a technology start-up and had very good success. It was sold to a large software company and I, once again, found myself in a corporate bureaucracy that was stifling my entrepreneurial desires. So, I jumped shipped and started a software company that flamed out in the tech bubble burst. After another stint with a large software company, I jumped shipped, yet again. Now, I have LendPro and couldn’t be happier to get up everyday knowing I will have a direct impact on the state of my business.
Tell us what you learned from your biggest failure.
I, along with another investor, put a good chunk of money in a start-up that failed in the tech bubble burst. The company was burning cash to get product to market and we had no proverbial runway. With the bubble burst, money dried up so we were dead in the water. With my latest venture, I weathered the great recession by better understanding what it takes to get cash flow generated and managing it more wisely. This approach helped us recently raise capital, which will allow us to grow more rapidly.
How does Charlottesville as a place support or fuel your innovations?
The entrepreneurial community in Charlottesville had a large impact on my decision to move here four years ago. Coming from Northern Virginia, I was concerned about size of the talent pool. But, Charlottesville is an ideal place to actually steal from the Northern Virginia market – why would you want to live there when you could be in Charlottesville!
What would you change or keep the same in Charlottesville?
Would definitely keep the small town feel. The incubator concept is a good one. There is some of that going on but I believe it is very niche or specific to say, UVa. The Community Investment Collaborative appears to be a good concept as well. Having a more robust incubator program in Charlottesville would be stimulating. I think it would motivate more people to sow their entrepreneurial oats. I would jump in to help as I can, and I’m sure other successful local entrepreneurs would too.
What is your biggest need right now to advance your innovation?
Having just secured capital, I can’t say that. But, that is the more critical element for any entrepreneur. Sales and marketing is my most important need. I need to build brand awareness of LendPro in the retail finance marketplace. Building a sales team will be more challenging here but we do plan to rely heavily on an indirect sales channel.
What is the view from your office like on a typical day?
We just moved in to an office building off Ivy Road just west of the 29 bypass. We are on the third floor and our offices overlook Birdwood Golf Course and Ragged Mountain – quite nice. Too bad, I just get to watch though!